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Series / Thieves of the Wood

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Thieves of the Wood is a 2020 Dutch television series about the adventures of the Historical Domain Character Jan de Licht and his band of robbers during the early 18th century.

  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Corrupt Hick Iron Simon sees himself as king of the beggars and insists on being addressed as Lord.
  • Abusive Parents: Simon slaps Squint Eyes repeatedly and mocks him for crying, despite him having received a fractured skull from a beating by Tinker.
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  • All Men Are Perverts: The Mayor entertains the nobility by releasing young girls like Anne Marie on the grounds of his estate so his guests can rape them.
  • Agent Peacock: When Tinker is put in charge of a high class brothel he starts wearing frilly shirts and velvet suits.
  • Anarchy Is Chaos: Both good and evil vagrants flock to Jan's commune. Some believe the Bandit Clan will improve their lives and change society, but others want to get rich by robbing Asshole Victim aristocrats.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: The Gypsies are Badass Pacifist healers and fortune tellers, but can strike terror into the hearts of the unjust.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: The Mayor is clearly the Big Bad because he profits from slavery, but Jan is a fugitive murderer.
  • Barefoot Poverty: Anne Marie and her sister during their childhood at the Orphanage of Fear.
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  • Break the Cutie: Barrow is initially an idealist who opposed torture and wants to reform criminals through education, but in the final episode he becomes a Knight Templar Lawman Gone Bad out of frustration at Jan's continued defiance and rejection by Anne Marie.
  • Bully Hunter: Jan shoots the finger off an urchin for harassing Van Erkens' daughter.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: When Jan is recaptured after surviving his initial hanging, Barrow decides to have him crushed to death on the wheel, to make sure he is dead this time.
  • Cool Guns: The Highwayman Jan carries an assortment of flintlock pistols. One of his followers is armed with a crossbow.
  • Darker and Edgier: This is not the glamorous, romanticised trope from the old swashbucklers. Being based on true events, life for The Highwayman was short and brutal.
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  • The Dragon: The Spaniard to Simon, and later Squint Eyes.
  • Dirty Cop: Many of the watchmen are corrupt and take bribes. Barrow puts a lot of effort into stopping this behavior and push his Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop department to maximum efficiency.
  • The Dung Ages: Like every Dutch town of the 18th century, the streets are filthy and there are no paved roads.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": In this case, he is referred to by everyone as "My Lord Mayor".
  • Evil Wears Black: The Mayor wears a black suit. So does Barrow when he is put in charge after the Mayor's death.
  • A Father to His Men: The French general is unusually caring by 18th century standards, and has vowed to bring home as many of his men as possible.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: The Dutch city guards wear black coats and orange waistcoats. Jan and his followers wear grey and brown to reflect their grey morality.
  • Grey-and-Grey Morality: The Chaotic Good robber Jan who gives his loot to the poor versus the Lawful Good Anti-Villain Barrow who opposes torture and demands the Outlaw receives a fair trial.
  • Genre Savvy: Barrow doesn't believe in silly peasant superstitions like ghosts or curses, but after Dean Peck is killed he insists on being heavily guarded at all times because he suspects that Jan has somehow survived the hanging and returned for revenge.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Jan survives the hanging because Butcher the hangman performs a tracheotomy on him.
  • Heel Realization: Butcher is horrified at being forced to hang the innocent Van Erkens, and decides to make amends by saving Jan.
  • Humiliation Conga: Two of the Mayor's mooks are robbed of their gold, then stripped of their clothes, and finally made to run back to the city naked.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: The brothel madam is strict, but takes care of the prostitutes under her protection.
  • I Want Grandkids: The mother of Sissy Villain Nikolai encourages him to force himself upon his unwilling bride.
  • Knife Nut: Tinker's preferred weapon is a large dagger.
  • King of Thieves: No criminal can deal drugs, run a brothel or break into houses without paying protection money to Evil Cripple Iron Simon.
  • Kill It with Fire: Anne Marie covers the Mayor with tar and feathers, and burns him to death.
  • Just Like Robin Hood: Jan robs the Mayor's minions so the vagrants under his protection can survive in the forest.
  • The Lancer: Tinker is Dangerous Deserter Jan's sidekick.
  • Lead Detective: Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist Barrow has the misfortune of being born 200 years too early. His modern methods of police investigation are regarded with disdain and suspicion by the watchmen under his command.
  • Lawful Neutral: The French general is not on the side of the Lawful Evil Mayor or the Chaotic Good Jan, until he is provoked by the killing of two of his soldiers.
  • Loveable Rogue: Jan is seen as the Dutch equivalent of Robin Hood.
  • The Mob Boss Is Scarier: Iron Simon is The Dreaded, and even the watchmen fear him.
  • May–December Romance: Between the bailiff Barrow and the young hooker Anne Marie.
  • Nice Hat: Jan wears a cocked hat with a Badass Longcoat.
  • Not So Different: Barrow and Simon are, respectively, a modern detective and crime boss born two centuries too early.
    • Similarly, Barrow and Jan are both outsiders not of noble birth who believe in social justice and want to change society. The difference is that Barrow wants to reform the legal system, while Jan wants to redistribute wealth by force.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Tinker gives Squint Eyes a fractured skull and disfigured face after he is caught harassing a prostitute.
  • Old Soldier: Hero Antagonist Barrow is a retired army officer who becomes captain of the city watchmen.
  • Parental Substitute: Barrow sees himself as a father figure to Anne Marie's Heart Warming Orphan sister.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: The Mayor regularly hosts depraved orgies with the local nobility where they prey upon vulnerable orphan girls.
  • Robbing the Mob Bank: Jan unintentionally steals Iron Simon's valuable consignment of opium which was being transported on the stagecoach.
  • Spoiled Brat: Anne Marie snubs Barrows' offer of marriage and taunts him for his cowardice.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Squint Eyes becomes one after Simon gives him a brutal The Reason You Suck speech and strips him of his position of authority within The Syndicate.
  • The Starscream: Simon is murdered by his own son, Squint Eyes.
  • Sinister Minister: The Vicar Peck preaches sermons upholding the mayor's corrupt regime, and gets perverse pleasure out of disciplining Nikolai's wife.
  • Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: Vagrancy is illegal in the 1700s, and the homeless are rounded up and forced to build roads and canals for the Mayor.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Although Barrow is An Officer and a Gentleman, he is not a nobleman. The Mayor and Peck see him as a social inferior and fail to take his warnings seriously about being targeted for assassination.
  • The Bad Guys Are Cops: Although Barrow is a decent man, his subordinates oppress the poor and uphold the mayor's tyrannical regime.
  • Thieves' Guild: Iron Simon is The Don of a criminal gang paid by the Mayor to enslave homeless people.
  • Torture Is Ineffective: The tramp Van Erkens is a cripple who needs crutches to walk, but when he is brought before the Mayor and accused of robbery he remains Defiant to the End and refuses to implicate Jan.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: Barrow tried hard to strike a fair deal with Jan and the robbers and provide two vulnerable young girls with an education, but everything goes wrong. He is eventually pushed too far and undergoes a Face–Heel Turn after the Mayor is murdered and he is given a Klingon Promotion.
  • Villain Team-Up: The Lawful Evil Mayor pays Chaotic Evil Iron Simon and his Dragon with an Agenda the Spaniard to bring him slaves to work on the road, and they work together to capture Jan because they realise his activities are bad for business.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Most of the townsfolk approve of the Mayor's Repressive, but Efficient regime because he is responsible for envisioning paved roads and a canal that will bring in wealth.
  • Villain Protagonist: Jan does not see himself as a hero and tells his followers not to call him one because he previously murdered his best friend and deserted from the army.
  • You All Meet in an Inn: Jan and Tinker find the rest of the gang at a brothel/pub called the Yellow Prick.
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